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Start of the CRISPR Treatment Trials

Researchers in the US are beginning to examine whether CRISPR-based gene editing could be used to treat disease, NPR's Morning Edition reports.

In particular, it says researchers are exploring whether gene editing could be a viable treatment for blood disorders like sickle cell and beta-thalassemia as well as for inherited blindness. Work to treat inherited blindness, NPR's Morning Edition notes, would also be a first study of gene editing in the body. For other studies, it notes, researchers are taking patients' cells out of their bodies, modifying them in the lab, and returning them once edited to patients' bodies.

Additionally, NPR's Morning Edition says researchers are also looking into whether CRISPR could be used to treat cancer. For example, it says two patients have been treated for multiple myeloma and sarcoma at the University of Pennsylvania, and others may be on the way.

But, NPR cautions that most of these studies are preliminary and are focused mostly on determining whether the treatments are safe. Still, it says researchers will also keeping an eye on whether they do appear to help patients. "We could get a glimmer of that sometime later this year, maybe early next year," NPR's Rob Stein says.